The PGA Tour recently informed players about a tweak coming to its rules book in 2022, but not everyone is a fan of the change.
In an email to players and caddies, first reported by Brian Wacker, the Tour detailed its changes to yardage books and green-reading materials that will be put in place beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
In short, players and caddies can now only use committee-approved yardage books and will no longer be allowed to use information that provides help with the reading of green slopes and grades. The use of such material, many argue, is that it undermines the skill of reading greens.
But it’s the next part that has some of golf’s top instructors miffed.
In their books, players and caddies can add handwritten information about greens and slopes, but only if it’s gained through their own eyes and not with the help of levels or other slope-reading technology.
“This last paragraph beggars belief,” said renowned putting coach Phil Kenyon, posting on his Instagram account on Wednesday, referring to the part about prohibiting devices to test the greens. “So you can take a TrackMan or quad or range finder on to the course and check how certain shots or holes ‘play’ yardage-wise but you can’t take a level onto a ‘practice’ putting green to calibrate your feel for slope. What a ridiculous rule. It’s stupid in fact. It serves no purpose. It’s indeed skill limiting.”
Kenyon uses a level as one of his many techniques to teach his students green-reading. He currently works with pros such as Henrik Stenson, Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood, among others. Kenyon continued, questioning if using a level in practice is hurting the game more than equipment advances or pace of play.
“The technology available to a player to refine their skill in practice contributes to the game by allowing them to perform at a higher level in competition,” he said. “There shouldn’t be constraints such as this in practice. If so they should be across the game. Maybe not let players use weights in the gym? Let’s ban speed-stick training? Why should devices be available on the range and course but not the putting greens?
“Sadly once again the governing bodies haven’t thought it through well enough in my opinion,” he continued. “Let’s pick on putting. Let’s avoid the real issues. How far the ball goes and slow play.”
Kenyon’s post was commented on more than 100 times, many of them by fellow coaches and even one top-10 player in the world, Bryson DeChambeau. “Couldn’t agree more with your take,” DeChambeau said.
Chris Como added: “Anything that impedes innovation of thought or practices takes away from the beauty of the game. I think it’s a mistake to go down the ‘if you’re going to do it in putting do it across the board’ rabbit hole. Just don’t do it!!! One of the great joys of this game is the endless treasure hunt of finding small edges that add up over time.”
Kenyon was a guest on GOLF’s Off Course Podcast with Claude Harmon III earlier this year. You can listen to his putting insights here or can watch a clip of the interview below.